Republican senators back UK over 'whatever course Britain takes' on Brexit

Ben Gartside
Reporter
US Capitol building, Washington, DC. Photo: AP

New UK prime minister Boris Johnson has received a letter signed by 45 Republican senators who have pledged support to the UK, no matter what a final Brexit looks like, and backed a bilateral trade agreement with the US.

The senators congratulate Johnson for his victory and say they will “advocate” for a trade deal between the US and UK, as soon as the Brexit terms allow to “reflect centuries of open commerce between our nations.”

The senators also say they will work with the US presidential administration to minimise disruption to air travel, financial transactions and shipment of medicines, food and vital supplies should the UK leave the European Union without a deal on 31 October.

“We want to assure you and the British people of our continued, unwavering support for the special relationship between our two countries as Britain leaves the European Union,” the letter says.

It stresses that the signatories would work with their own administration, the UK government and the EU to help through a smooth transition. There are only 87 days until the UK is set to leave the EU.

READ MORE: Just 3 out of 10 exporters are ready for a no-deal Brexit

The senators also reaffirm the commitment to joint security, with existing co-operation in Nato and ‘Five Eyes’ — an intelligence alliance comprising English speaking nations of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK and the US.

“Irrespective of how Brexit occurs, we recommit to the security alliance,” they said in the letter. “We will also advocate for a new bilateral trade agreement.”

The letter did not explicitly support the decision to leave or the policy choice of no-deal, but pledged to support whatever decision the UK made.

While a UK-US trade deal is likely to face multiple impasses before any agreement, the senators commitment to seek a deal with the UK in the event of a no deal does undermine Irish leverage ahead of the 31 October deadline.

Commenting on the letter, the Institute for Economic Affairs’ head of regulatory Affairs Victoria Hewson told Yahoo Finance UK: "From the UK’s perspective this is an important intervention. The US senate plays a pivotal role in trade policy and this support for the UK both in pursuing a free trade agreement and dealing with the consequences if we leave the EU without a withdrawal agreement will be most welcome in Whitehall. It is to be hoped that the government will now have the confidence to accept this support and build on it."

Shadow international trade minister and Labour MP Bill Esterson, however, said: “The US Republicans clearly recognise the seriousness of a no-deal Brexit and are planning to take full advantage. If only our own government would admit the scale of the disaster which they are planning to inflict on the British people.”